Opera Tampa Gala
Opera philanthropists Dr. Zena Lansky and Warren Rodgers honored Straz Center director Judy Lisi by sponsoring Saturday's Spanish-flavored Opera Tampa Gala hosted by co-chairwomen Lea Davis and Kathleen Casey-Shannon. The black-tie evening opened with cocktails on the set of Bizet's Carmen in Morsani Hall with Carmen herself, Alessandra Volpe. Dinner starred lobster risotto, tenderloin and basil gnocchi in the lobby where maestro Daniel Lipton proudly presented Opera Tampa singers to the 140 guests.
Due to illness, a video of baritone Thomas Hampson's career spanning 80 roles and 70 recordings had to suffice for having the 2014 Anton Coppola Excellence in the Arts award winner in person. Lisi read his letter of regret.
On cue, Aaron Fodiman played the role of auctioneer, helping get the gala net proceeds of more than $45,000, including two bids of $1,000 to conduct the orchestra through an opera dress rehearsal and read-through next year and three bids of $900 each for walk-on "super" roles in two upcoming operas.
Easter Seals' A Pair to Remember
Personal trainers, Realtors, firefighters and other suave gentlemen hammed it up for a tentful of ladies bidding on trendy shoes and other goodies at A Pair to Remember, helping chairwoman Kandace Lesher raise $43,000 for Easter Seals Florida.
The ladies lunch bunch found a silent auction and spa services when they arrived at the Tampa Yacht Club Feb. 28. Soon they were cheering with emcee Jen Holloway and the men — all outfitted by Scott Moore of Urban Body Clothing — as they strutted with shoes on a silver platter, paired with gift cards, airline tickets and golf packages. A pair of Burberry espadrille wedges, Botox and four nights in a Bahamas cottage was a hot seller at $2,000.
The male eye candy was fine, but how sweet it was to meet some children benefiting from Easter Seals therapy for infants up to age 5.
To Life, Florida Holocaust Museum
Co-chairwomen Lisl Schick and Marietta Drucker poignantly marked the 75th anniversary of the Kindertransport at To Life, the annual Florida Holocaust Museum dinner, a special evening for the two women who were among the 10,000 Jewish children transported out of Nazi Germany in that historic rescue. Concert pianist Mona Golabek shared the story of her mother's escape on the Kindertransport, performing excerpts from her show based on the book The Children of Willesden Lane.
Executive director Elizabeth Gelman welcomed the 450 guests mingling at food stations, a noodle bar and hot dog stand at the Mahaffey Theater on Feb. 27.
One special guest, Tampa police Chief Jane Castor, received the 2014 Loebenberg Humanitarian Award from Sandy Loebenberg Mermelstein. She cited Castor's legacy of treating individuals with dignity and respect, noting every Tampa officer takes a course on the ethics of law enforcement in a democracy.